Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Media Release"
Jul 20, 2017

Coalition talks about a plan for a plan

The Turnbull Government’s Cities Performance Framework interim report released today is nothing more than a plan for a plan.

What’s more the ‘Framework’ that the report purports to establish will be, at best, a poor imitation of the annual State of Australian Cities report published by the former Federal Labor Government and scrapped by the current Coalition Government.

The State of Australian Cities report was first introduced in 2010 to “track and compare cities’ performance in order to make the best policy and investment decisions for Australia’s future”.

These reports were downloaded millions of times and considered a highly valuable resource by stakeholders and policy makers because of the breadth and depth of issues each report encompassed.

In contrast, the “Framework” proposed by the Coalition is far less comprehensive, making no mention of important issues such as the impact of climate change on our cities as well as the challenges of our ageing population.

The Property Council has also identified a gap in terms of data on housing supply, with its Chief Executive, Ken Morrison, saying today that it “is a critical part of the housing affordability equation, and we again call on the Turnbull Government to reinstate the National Housing Supply Council to plug this gap.”

What’s more, the “Framework” won’t even be released until the end of this year.

In the meantime, Australian cities continue to grapple with critical issues including urban congestion, housing affordability and rapid growth in outer suburbs.

Urban congestion alone will cost the nation $53 billion a year by 2031 if left unaddressed.

Australian cities can’t keep waiting for the Coalition Government to act on its rhetoric.

Our cities need real investment, and the evidence-based research that underpins this investment, now.

Labor understands this and that’s why when we were in Government, in addition to producing reports, we also:

  • Established the Major Cities Unit;
  • Released Our Cities, Our Future: a National Urban Policy For a productive, sustainable and liveable future which articulates the Commonwealth’s objectives and priorities for our major cities;
  • Created the Urban Policy Forum made up of national leaders in cities policy to advise and guide future policy;
  • Committed more to modernising and extending urban passenger rail than all our predecessors since Federation combined;
  • Funded the Liveable Cities Program to make our cities more productive, sustainable and liveable;
  • Established a National Smart Managed Motorways Trial to retrofit smart technology to improve traffic flows along congested motorways and city roads;
  • Placed the need for infrastructure planning reform on the agenda of COAG with the establishment of the National Planning Taskforce;
  • Required all State and Territory governments to have in place strategic plans for their capital cities to guide future growth.

 

Jul 14, 2017

NAIF toll roads proposal is absurd

The absurdity of the Turnbull Government’s approach to infrastructure has been underlined by its bizarre proposal to build toll roads in Australia’s north through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility.

Anyone who knows anything about the economics of financing roads would know toll roads will not stack up in the relatively sparsely populated areas of northern Australia.

This absurd proposal is the latest manifestation of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s campaign to cut Commonwealth infrastructure investment.

His approach is further illustrated by his creation of the new Infrastructure Financing Unit (IFU) to promote methods of financing.

The IFU has been rejected as needless by economists and the peak infrastructure sector body Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, which has repeatedly called on the Government to lift its own level of investment.

However, a report released last week by the Parliamentary Budget Office noted that Commonwealth infrastructure investment expressed as a proportion of GDP will halve over the next decade from 0.4 per cent to 0.2 per cent.

While private investment can be used to help deliver major projects, the fact is that private investors will only invest in projects which, like toll roads, produce revenue streams.

The former Labor Federal Government invested $5.5 billion on roads in Northern Australia. But since 2013 Mr Turnbull has cut infrastructure funding to the bone.

The NAIF, created amid fanfare more than two years ago, has yet to invest a single dollar in a single project.

NAIF is an appropriate acronym for the Government’s infrastructure agenda, except it should be called the No Actual Infrastructure Fund.

Jul 12, 2017

Coalition’s $3 billion Victorian infrastructure rip-off continues

The Turnbull Government will deny Victorians $3 billion in infrastructure funding over the next four years by investing only 12 per cent of its budget in a state that is home to a quarter of the national population.

Four years after it took office and cancelled billions of dollars of investment for important projects like the Melbourne Metro, the Turnbull Government continues to rip off Victorians while pretending otherwise.

New calculations by the Opposition show that even accounting for the recent Commonwealth investment into regional rail services from its Asset Recycling Fund, Victoria will receive $2.7 billion in Commonwealth infrastructure investment over the next four years.

That represents 12 per cent of the national infrastructure budget.

Victorians pay their taxes.

They deserve a fairer share of nation building investment to keep pace with population growth and underpin economic and jobs growth.

However, for four years the Federal Coalition has refused to back Victoria on infrastructure investment, despite its critical importance to the state’s economic development.

During its period in office the former Labor Government invested $201 a year on infrastructure per Victorian, delivering productivity enhancing projects like the Regional Rail Link and Stage I of the M80 upgrade.

But 2017 Budget forward estimates show that by 2020-21, Canberra will spend only $46 a year on infrastructure per Victorian.

No wonder the peak infrastructure industry group Infrastructure Partnerships Australia rejected the recent 2017 Budget, calculating it would drive infrastructure investment in this country to its lowest level in a decade.

Jul 10, 2017

Coalition must back Gawler Electrification project

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull must match his rhetorical support for public transport projects with actual investment in the electrification of the Gawler Rail Line through Adelaide’s northern suburbs.

The upgrade of this rail line was first approved by the independent Infrastructure Australia in 2009.

The former Federal Labor Government allocated $293.5 million in general works including replacing sleepers on the line and upgrading stations and also put aside $76 million for the electrification.

But the incoming Coalition Government withdrew the funding a few months later.

Since then, the Coalition has failed to provide a dollar of investment for the project, despite Mr Turnbull’s frequent declarations about the need to improve public transport in Australian cities.

The South Australian State Government has now been forced to go it alone on Stage I and has written to the Commonwealth seeking a 50-50 partnership with the Commonwealth for Stage II.

The Prime Minister likes taking selfies as he rides on trains. But he refuses to provide new investment for trains.

He should partner with the SA Government to upgrade the Gawler Line and also work with it to deliver the AdeLINK light rail project.

Instead, the Prime Minister has sought to conceal his inaction on public transport by creating a National Rail Fund which he says could be used for projects like the Gawler Line upgrade.

But the National Rail Fund is a con.

It will not deliver a dollar this year. Not next year. Not even the year after.

It is time for Mr Turnbull to stop talking about public transport and provide real investment in real projects, including the Gawler Electrification and AdeLINK

 

Jul 7, 2017

Coalition must act now on high speed rail

Malcolm Turnbull must accept the advice of Infrastructure Australia and begin to secure the corridor for a High Speed Rail Link between Brisbane and Melbourne via Sydney and Canberra before it is built out by urban sprawl.

Today’s report by Infrastructure Australia calling for the government to begin securing land for the line follows four years of inaction by the Coalition on this visionary project.

In 2013 the former Federal Labor Government allocated $50 million to create a High Speed Rail Authority to advance planning and secure the corridor.

But the incoming Coalition Government scrapped the plan, which Labor had proposed in response to the recommendations of an independent expert panel that included former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer, Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott and the late Bryan Nye, of the Australasian Railways Association.

Since then the Government has refused to bring on a debate of my Private Member’s Bill which would create such an Authority.

This remarkable lack of vision threatens the viability of the project, with Infrastructure Australia’s report warning that development is now consuming land along the route.

High Speed Rail would revolutionise interstate travel, allowing people to travel between capital cities in as little as three hours.

It would also turbo charge the economic development of the regional centres along its route, including the Gold Coast, Casino, Grafton, Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie, Taree, Newcastle, the Central Coast, the Southern Highlands, Wagga Wagga, Albury-Wodonga and Shepparton.

The former Labor Government conducted a feasibility study into the project which found it was viable, producing $2.15 in public benefit for every dollar invested in the Sydney to Melbourne corridor.

It is time for the Coalition to stop stalling and get behind this project in the national interest.

Jul 6, 2017

Coalition facilitates maritime sackings

The Turnbull Government is continuing to abuse maritime laws to facilitate the sacking of 40 Australian seafarers and their replacement with overseas crews earning third world wages.

The Canadian Steamship Lines (CSL) Thevenard, which has been operating around the Australian coast for nearly a decade, sailed to China recently where its Australian crew was sacked on Wednesday.

The Government has issued the company with a temporary licence allowing it to continue operating in Australia with a new crew of overseas seafarers on vastly lower wages.

While the Australian Government has the power to issue temporary licences, they must be for temporary work in cases where no Australian ship is available.

The Thevenard already had an Australian crew.

And its work was in no way temporary, with the ship having operated between Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane carrying gypsum, fly ash and minerals sands since 2008.

In 2015 the Government used similar permits to allow the owners of the MV Portland to replace its Australian crew with overseas seafarers, despite the fact that vessel had been operating in Australian waters for more than 20 years.

This followed the Senate’s rejection of the Coalition’s WorkChoices on Water legislation, which would have removed any preference for Australian seafarers in coastal trade.

It is extraordinary that any Australian Government would actually facilitate Australians being sacked because they are paid Australian wage rates.

Australians want a Government prepared to stand up for Australian jobs, but the Turnbull Government is doing the opposite.

Jul 5, 2017

Parliamentary Budget Office confirms coalition to slash infrastructure investment by half

The independent Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) says the Coalition will slash rail and road infrastructure investment by half over the next decade, from 0.4 per cent of GDP in 2016-17 to 0.2 per cent of GDP in 2027-28.

A PBO report released today says Commonwealth investment in railways and roads will fall off a cliff under the Coalition, declining by 4.5 per cent a year.

The Coalition’s infrastructure cuts could not come at a worse time for the Australian economy.

As our nation’s mining industry moves from its investment stage to production, it is critical that we increase investment in railways, roads, ports and other infrastructure to encourage growth in other industries and underpin economic and jobs growth.

Yet the Coalition is doing the opposite – cutting investment while pretending otherwise and banking on the private sector to pick up the slack.

The PBO figures vindicate criticism of the 2017 Budget by Labor and the private sector, including the post-Budget commentary of peak infrastructure sector group Infrastructure Partnerships Australia.

An IPA statement released just after Budget said:

… the Budget confirms the cut to real budgeted capital funding to its lowest level in more than a decade using a mix of underspend, re-profiling and narrative to cover this substantial drop in real capital expenditure.

The PBO report once again highlights the yawning gap between Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s rhetoric on infrastructure and the unfortunate reality of his cuts and inaction.

Only a Labor Government will deliver the infrastructure that Australia needs to keep pace with population growth and deliver the productivity gains needed to boost economic and jobs growth.

Jun 30, 2017

Coalition go-slow holds back Tassie tourism

One year after Malcolm Turnbull promised Tasmanians a Coalition Government would deliver a full business case and economic impact statement for the Cradle Mountain Masterplan, it appears nothing has happened.

Earlier this month the Tasmanian Parliament heard no-one had even been appointed to conduct the study, despite the fact that Tasmanian State Government has already provided investment for the upgrades of tourism facilities at Cradle Mountain.

It is time Malcolm Turnbull supported the tourism sector.

The latest State Tourism Satellite Accounts, released on Wednesday by Tourism Research Australia, show 17,200 Tasmanians were directly employed in tourism as at June 30 last year – 3.3 per cent fewer than the year before.

While the Commonwealth should be supporting the sector to reverse that negative trend, Mr Turnbull is dragging his feet on the Cradle Mountain study.

On top of this, in last month’s federal Budget, he failed to provide any new investment for the state’s tourism infrastructure.

That is not good enough given the quality of Tasmania as a tourism destination and the potential for jobs growth in this important sector.

The former Federal Labor Government partnered constructively with the Tasmanian tourism sector to deliver millions of dollars in tourism infrastructure, including the Three Capes Track, named by Lonely Planet as one of the world’s hottest new travel experiences.

Federal Labor committed more than $29 million to Tasmanian tourism during the 2016 election campaign including $15 million for Cradle Mountain, $10 million for the Ex-HMAS Tobruk Dive, $4 million for the third stage of the Three Capes Track and nearly $7 million for coastal pathways for the North-West.

If the Coalition is serious about Tasmanian tourism it must reverse its woeful track record and get on with the job of delivering the infrastructure that the sector needs.

Jun 29, 2017

Labor to abolish Infrastructure Financing Unit

A Shorten Labor Government will abolish the Coalition’s new Infrastructure Financing Unit and reallocate its funding to Infrastructure Australia.

The IFU is a solution in search of a problem.

It is unnecessary to create a new bureaucracy within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to advise on financing big projects when Infrastructure Australia already has the expertise and the legislative mandate to advise on project financing.

On top of this, the infrastructure sector says the new agency is not needed.

In its pre-Budget submission peak industry group Infrastructure Partnerships Australia said it could not identify any currently proposed, commercially viable infrastructure project not already attracting finance.

Imploring Mr Turnbull not to create the IFU, the IPA submission said: “Commonwealth Government funding support is needed for infrastructure – Commonwealth financing is not.’’

Malcolm Turnbull is creating the IFU to sideline Infrastructure Australia and divert attention from his cuts to infrastructure funding, which IPA analysis says will hit a 10-year low over the next four years.

Just like his chatter about “innovative financing arrangements,’’ Mr Turnbull is using the IFU to conceal his cuts.

Australia does not need a new bureaucracy.

It needs a Labor Government to invest in the railways, roads and other critical infrastructure that will boost productivity and underpin economic growth.

A Shorten Labor Government will abolish the IFU and reallocate the $7.4 million saved to Infrastructure Australia to enhance its ability to deliver on its core functions of assessing projects, producing a pipeline of projects and recommending financing mechanisms.

The money will also be used to re-establish the Major Cities Unit, scrapped by the Coalition, within Infrastructure Australia.

The former Labor Government created this unit to research and advise on policies aimed at improving the productivity, sustainability and liveabilit

Jun 22, 2017

Luke Foley on the right track on Western Sydney Airport planning

Federal Labor endorses NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley’s call for the creation of a joint commonwealth-state authority to co-ordinate planning on and around the site of the Western Sydney Airport.

This sensible move would ensure the airport is more than just a runway and a terminal.

The new airport has potential to create thousands of new jobs for Western Sydney residents, not just in aviation but in associated sectors including tourism, education, advanced manufacturing, logistics and residential development.

The authority proposed by Mr Foley today would help realise the full potential of the project by co-ordinating land use and transport infrastructure planning across governments.

I am also pleased Mr Foley has backed Federal Labor’s plan to link the new airport to the Sydney Rail Network from the day it opens.

In April Bill Shorten and I announced a Labor Federal Government would provide initial funding of $400 million to extend Sydney’s South-West Rail link from Leppington to the new airport, as well as a new outer orbital train line from Macarthur in the south to St Marys in the north via the airport.

A second stage of the project will complete Sydney’s outer orbital rail link with construction of a new line connecting St Marys to the Sydney Metro Northwest at Rouse Hill, scheduled to open in 2019.

The Turnbull and Berejiklian governments have yet to commit to a rail connection from the day the airport opens.

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(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

Email: A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au

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